Why retailers, hotels and restaurants should invest in a professional WiFi network

The need for a strong WiFi network in retail and hospitality businesses to support technology such as iPads, visual merchandising, digital music and personal WiFi for customers has reached a tipping point.

Since 2012 there has been an increasing demand for WiFi from retailers, restaurants and hotels. Whilst we are still seeing some businesses trying to provide WiFi on the cheap, most now see the value in installing a robust, business class solution which gives greater management of the WiFi network from head office and delivers security of sensitive business data.

As more-and-more new technologies that rely on the network continue to emerge, the management becomes ever more complicated and businesses need to be mindful that it’s important to keep public and private data separate for security purposes.

With a mobile phone only an arm’s length away for close to 50% of the population, what better method is there for retailers, restaurants and hotels to communicate with their customers?

Customers now use mobiles and tablets to access websites, research products and services, make purchases and reservations, as well as downloading vouchers for redemption in person and accessing free WiFi networks in stores, hotels, cafes and restaurants. Businesses can also send direct marketing in the form of push alerts, enticing customers with the latest offers and promotions.

Personal customer access to the internet cannot run off the same part of the network in which customer transactions take place, however, running two or three separate networks is costly and complicated. This is when the need for a business class solution is highlighted – one that is capable of managing all of this functionality securely and cost effectively on one network.

If your business is currently relying on a basic broadband service, it may well need to consider a professional and robust business network in the near future, as consumer demand continues to grow for services that run off the WiFi network.

Contemplating the considered consumer

With a growing plethora of ways to research products, price, gain feedback and buy merchandise, teamed with tight purse strings, consumers have never been so considered when it comes to making purchases.  So how can retailers go about delivering a winning offering?

Vodat International outlines a recipe for success when it comes to the considered consumer:

Social media

Social media is and will continue to play a huge role in influencing consumers buying habits. With satisfied and unsatisfied customers taking to platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to share thoughts, feedback and pictures. It can contribute to creating a buzz and demand for a product, but on the flip side can sometimes have the opposite effect and create a negative perception in a consumers mind – preventing a potential purchase.

Retailers should use social media to listen to and learn from customers and be responsive to their feedback, demonstrating a joined up service and attentive customer care. If queries are dealt with quickly and efficiently, consumers are far more likely to continue shopping with that retailer and spread the good word.

Connected channels and availability of products

With customers expecting to be able to shop when, where and how they chose, it’s important that sales channels are integrated for a seamless experience, which ever channel a customer choses to shop via. This should extend to consistency of pricing and promotions across channels, so consumers aren’t pushed to search online for the best deals.

Retail systems should be linked into all inventory locations across the retail estate – both in the warehouse and throughout the stores – so sales assistants are able to interrogate systems and identify if a desired product is in stock elsewhere, if not within that store. This way, a purchase can be completed then and there, without a product present, resulting in a guaranteed sale, consistency of availability and happy customer.

Customer service

Staff need to be armed with knowledge and access to technology that enables them to be helpful and deliver against customer demands. When they are unable to answer a question surrounding stock and its availability this often causes frustration for the both the customer and sales assistant.

Mobile PoS connected to a retailer’s network enables an abundance of functionality that a lone sales assistant isn’t capable of delivering, from product data in the form of information and videos, transactions on the spot, connection to the online channel, visibility of stock across the retail estate and much more – enabling a sleeker and all-round more pleasurable experience.

Supply chain

Finally, an agile supply chain is required to manage the transportation of stock across the retail estate and directly to customers, so the availability of products is consistent across all channels.

Every person through the door is a potential opportunity, but retailers must offer a service that delivers consistency and convenience across the board to maximise sales and create an environment that consumers can rely on and trust, without having to over-consider every purchase made.



The science of shopping – what makes us buy?

There’s lots of data available on what we buy, but a lot less on why we buy. Surely, if retailers could tap into this knowledge they would be laughing all the way to the bank.

Retailers market to customers every day using varied methods, from newsletters and push alerts to advertisements on TV and online – on websites and social media sites, but what if there was a more effective way to influence consumers at a subconscious level?

The discovery of the brain’s ‘pleasure centre’ back in the 1950’s sparked an interest in understanding how the human brain can help corporations better understand consumers. Over the years this has evolved into the practise of Neuromarketing, a science that predicts why we buy and how to influence shoppers’ buying habits, by monitoring shoppers physical and/ or mental reactions in differing shopping scenarios.

Touch, taste, visuals and smell play a big part in the shopping journey with people associating these senses often with fond memories, triggering feelings of emotional attachment. For instance, a perfume may be linked to scent that reminds you of a flower in your mum’s garden, when you were a child. Emotional attachments can even come about from an association that a family member has had with a particular brand, instantly creating a sense of loyalty.

“People are fairly good at expressing what they want, what they like, or even how much they will pay for an item. But they aren’t very good at accessing where that value comes from, or how and when it is influenced by factors like store displays or brands. Neuroscience can help us understand those hidden elements of the decision process,” says, Uma R. Karmarkar, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School.

Neuromarketing has been identified as a more effective means of understanding shopper behaviour in comparison to mystery shopping and customer surveys, as it taps into the part of the brain that uncovers what a customer really wants, whether they know it on a conscious level or as so often is the case, not!

This method of analysis isn’t likely to replace the more traditional lines of marketing but will certainly complement them. As ways of testing are simplified and it becomes more effective it’s likely that Neuromarketing will be more widely adopted within the retail industry, other than just the larger corporations, so watch this space!